On Food and Drink and not-Drinking

In sticking with my commitment to Dry January my new mock-tail is the Not So Dark and Stormy. I like the taste of Ginger Beer. My sister does not. Ginger ale is okay but can be sweet tasting, even the diet version.  Ginger Beer tastes more grown-up. So my drink is really not a Not So Dark and Stormy from the internet recipes. I had to look that up so I would know whether I made this up. I probably made my mock-tail but apparently not the name.

I found a six-pack of diet Ginger Beer at my local Walmart and after a few seconds of deliberation put it in the grocery cart. When I make the boozy cocktail I use spiced dark rum. I think to myself, “Self, why not spiced tea?” I have been enjoying chai type spiced tea from various brands but I prefer the non-caffeinated types. So I brew a strong cup of tea and let it sit until room temperature. Basically leave the tea bag in this whole time. Put ice in a tall glass, pour to half full with the tea and top off with Ginger Beer. Nice and refreshing! A lime twist would be the finishing touch but I did not have any.

The above is not a dish one should have on a weight loss eating plan. Pie crust is fat and flour and how can that be diet friendly? But I have only the top crust on this pot pie which is mostly vegetables anyway. I was debating between a quiche and a pot pie. I tried to roast the veg but they just cooked in the oven. I had one small and thin frozen chicken breast and diced this up to sauté with half an onion. And it worked well in the cast iron skillet; goes from stove top to oven in seconds!

  • ½ very large bag Asian stir-fry vegetables ( discard or save sauce packet for later), roasted
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 chicken breast, or more if you prefer, diced
  • Olive oil for the skillet
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk + ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour
  • Seasoning of choice, I used a salt-free combination from a craft booth at the RV show similar to Mrs. Dash
  • One ready-made pie crust

Roast vegetables. Sauté onion and chicken in skillet with oil. Sprinkle with flour and add liquid and seasonings. Simmer slightly. Stir in the roasted vegetables. Make lattice with pie crust and put on top. I sprayed the crust with butter flavored cooking spray and sprinkled more seasoning on top. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-45 minutes. Hubby said he wasn’t particularly hungry but he ate his portion happily.

Thoughts from my kitchen table:

What have I been thinking about these past weeks: Results of Dry January.

Dry January is supposed to have health benefits including improved sleep, improved mood, saving money, brighter skin, stronger immune system, more energy, and weight loss and better liver function. I can’t measure the liver function but let’s evaluate the rest.

  • I have not noticed any improvement in my sleep. Sometimes I sleep well, sometimes I don’t. This has not changed.
  • Improved mood: not particularly. But maybe. I don’t feel like going to work some days but that is because Hubby is home and I would like to be retired. I may have been feeling a little down at the first part of the month but that may have been post-holiday blues. My December was full of activities including a trip to Jamaica to see my son get married. And that was a fun time. My sister and her husband came out and we sat in the pool chatting, swam in the ocean, ate really good food and just relaxed. Flights got cancelled and trip home was two days instead of one. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s we had visits with all 4 children (all grown) and two grandchildren and Christmas Eve and morning in New Hampshire with the grandchildren. So the beginning of January was the start of quiet; all the activity was over. And then there is the news, of course, and that will dampen anyone’s mood!
  • Saving money: definitely. An O’Douls at the bar on Trivia night is $4 instead of $7 for a Guinness. The bottle of wine that was opened after Christmas still sits on the counter. I don’t think we’ve gone to the liquor store at all this month.
  • Brighter skin: I have no idea. I’m an older woman who has a few wrinkles as it is. I have few if any blemishes either. This one is probably a wash. Actually I only wash my face with water. I do not wear makeup so water is good, no drying soaps, and no goopy creams.
  • Stronger immune system: I had a nasty cold virus for 3-4 weeks but by the time I went to the doctor she said I was on the mend. She recommended the time honored use of turmeric, ginger, and honey from the wisdom of grandmothers. This depends on who is your grandmother. Mine would have recommended chicken soup and hot tea with lemon and honey, not to mention Vicks Vaporub!
  • More energy: maybe. I have started sewing again. I believe I have had fewer days of coming home from work and just collapsing on the sofa. Bedtime remains at 9-9:30 PM. I have also spent more time reading in the evening and a little bit less vegging out in front of the TV. But there may be more to this than the giving up of alcohol.
  • Weight loss: 2 to 2 ½ pounds. There are a lot of factors besides giving up the drink that contribute to this. But I won’t argue with this result. More on this weight loss journey and these other factors in another post.

What I did enjoy about Dry January was the “not feeling impaired” sensation after having a drink. Not that I get drunk or even tipsy, but I can feel the alcohol after even one drink sometimes, especially a mixed drink. This is probably the buzz that people seek and enjoy. The recommended about of alcohol for women is one drink per day and no more than 7 drinks per week. It is easy for me to have two glasses of wine in an evening and even if not every night this still can add up to more than 7 glasses a week. I also enjoyed the search for non-alcoholic drinks. I plan to seek out non-alcoholic beers to enjoy as well as drinking more Ginger Beer (diet, no need for empty calories). I’m sure my liver and brain will thank me.

Oh and I broke my fast on January 31st (as planned) with a glass of a nice red wine blend. at a gathering with friends over salad, pizza, and a fabulous dessert.

Now that my commitment is over I can have a drink whenever I choose to. But do I really want to? I am hoping that how much and how often changes.

A New Start

Hello readers. When I started this blog a few years ago I had never meant it to be all about recipes. Yet somehow it became a recipe blog and I appreciate all of you who follow and read. I sometimes do try out new recipes. I often try out your recipes. And I cook and bake the same things over and over again.

This is a new year and I want to make a new beginning. I titled my blog my kitchen/my thoughts because I like to sit in my kitchen and think. I don’t always think about food but I do a lot. I would like to do my essays in two parts, one is on food and one about thoughts of life. I’m going out on a limb here because I now have to come up with witty, profound, insightful, smart, sharp, keen, knowing, penetrative, and savvy essays. (See how I used a thesaurus there?) And are you all interested in reading these? I personally like to read books that are the memoirs of the author. They usually have a theme and are not a “stream of consciousness” rambling on and on. I am afraid that my thoughts may fall to the latter. We’ll see how it goes, shall we?

Part A: food, and drink, sort of

So I am doing “Dry January” out of curiosity and to jump start a bit of weight loss by eliminating the empty calories in booze. So far, so good. Only one Friday evening after a stress filled work week did I think it would be nice to have a glass of wine. But I refrained. I did read an article about how some folks are not abstaining completely for the month and are still feeling good about their choices. Hubby said to me “You’re an adult; you can have a glass of wine if you want.” This is true but I want to stick to my commitment to myself. I will be breaking this fast on the last day of the month as I have an after work gathering with friends. With that in mind I think I can hold out. The challenge will be if some work colleagues go drinking after work this week to celebrate/mourn the departure of one to another agency.

For a mocktail I was pouring myself a diet ginger ale in a rocks glass. Hubby suggested adding a splash of bitters for a grown-up taste. That worked out well. My new go-to mocktail. I wonder if the bartender will make that for me if I go out to Trivia night this week.

I have ginger beer and club soda in the fridge. I forgot the lemons and limes for the twist. I need to remember some of the drinks I was looking at on the internet. Diet coke with a lemon twist is also a staple.

Part B: on losing weight

In the new year I want to lose weight and get fit. Fit in my mind means exercise more and feel stronger than now. To do that I am counting calories using an app on my phone called Lose-it. I use the basic free app as it is enough for my purposes. I am feeling accountable by using this. Thus far I have gone over my calorie allotment only once this last week.

I was contemplating taking you lovely readers on this weight loss journey with me, checking in with you about how it is going. And then I thought about listing my beginning weight and got hesitant. Why is that? Do men have as much hesitancy to talk about the actual numbers?

I have always weighed heavier than other people guess me to be. I don’t really have “big bones” but I remember weighing 102 pounds in junior high with other girls my same size weighing 10 pounds less. Years ago I had joined TOPS as my mother had before me. At the weigh in there were older women obviously thicker and shorter than I and their weight was less than mine. Hmmm?

It is the same with clothing sizes. I have never worn a size 0 or 3 or 6 and barely an 8. The patterns I bought when sewing my own clothes in junior high were size 8 and then size 10. I was a standard size 12 (in sewing patterns) through high school, college, and up until I had my first child. Now standard patterns do not fit my body shape. The body morphs in lots of places as one ages. I have had adult friends who also wear smaller sizes and I thought I appeared trimmer than they. Sizes have changed over the years. My Cadette Girl Scout skirt back in the day was a size 10. It looks like a child size 6-7 when I look at it today! I know that pattern sizes run bigger in number than off the rack clothing but I’m not even going to tell you that number!

So I have measured my waist and weighed myself. I most likely will not share the exact numbers with you unless I make a significant change. Wish me luck!

Have a blessed and happy 2020!